Tuesday, December 03, 2019


Today the real Montana --  meaning what hasn't been invaded by Easterners that dominate the cities -- is best understood through blogs written by women living on ranches where they work family-style, a way of life that the current WH is destroying.  

These are three local women whom I follow on Twitter or as columnists in addition to buying their books:

KLDell Rodeo Romance
Cowgirl, rancher, best-selling author of the Texas Rodeo series. Walk with me behind the chutes and into the real life of a cowboy.  Her column is called "Montana Musings."  The romances are lots of fun and thrills.  Website:  http://www.karilynndell.com/home.html

Cat Urbigkit
Award-winning author and photographer. Strolls the sagebrush rangelands of Wyoming with a herd of sheep and some really big dogs. http://caturbigkit.com.  Her books are extraordinary -- very beautiful.  

Lisa Schmidt
Column is called "prairie ponderings."

These are modern women with modern storylines.  In the past women were featured in books as white homestead heroines or maybe indigenous sex objects or victims.  Dell, for instance, in addition to helping to operate the ranch that's nearly in Canada, also travels the West to compete in rodeo as a barrel racer.  Urbigkit has a world presence that comes from working in high Eurasia where big dogs are used to protect livestock against wolves.  Much of this writing appears as columns in local newspapers or regional ag publications.  Readers know what the writers are talking about. They were not chosen by computer algorithms.

Google "Montana Women Writers" for a photo lineup and blogs.  I don't know all of them and few of them know me.  I write for the pure pleasure of it and not for sales or publicity.  I do have boxes of sermons which I consider throwing out.  They are UU, not Christian, and more essay than sermon.  "Prairiemary" is my blog is my publishing.  Books on Amazon are compilations from this blog.

These are grasslands women in vast landscapes where physical challenges abound.  I come to them after reading Mary Clearman Blew, Linda Hasselstrom, Gretel Erlich, Terry Tempest Williams, Annie Dillard and all the other finely educated natural history writers who have formed a kind of genre of their own and developed a morality of the real, the ecologically entwined, and the need to protect what one loves.  

It is one source of a new religion that is forming without anyone noticing.  Neither about a big all-powerful white man nor about any historically religious theory made into an institution that tries to participate in government, this kind of thought is still related to an ancient Catholic strand of thought:  you can't grasp the Creator (now we say there is none) but natural theology demands the study of creation.  My mother had a plaque in her kitchen:  "This is the day the Lord has made.  Rejoice and be glad in it."  

If "religion" -- or what people are more likely to call "spirituality" these days -- is the personal pattern of structured belief that each of us tries to live by, then these women are in that ball park, but not organized.  They do not go by the morality of money or sex or power, but just get through the day while keeping everyone fed, both family and livestock.  Political "woke" has a funny ring to it for ranch and farm women who don't get enough sleep.  They write in their heads while they work, then put it on paper as soon as the supper dishes are cleared away.

A few of the older women in this town still carry the old standards of women who are queen of the house.  Cleanliness, order, rules of behavior that don't allow for change, and men who provide.  That hasn't always worked out so well, but contraception helps.  In the small towns women often run the insurance company, the post office, the café, the grocery store and do it well.  Few of them write.  Some of them don't read.  Reading is the seed for writing.

This writing by women is not sentimental.  These women know death and hunger, disease and being trapped.  They know losing a child or a partner.  They know the house burning and the banker evicting.  Yet they don't form selling mechanisms the way the cowboy painters did.  Maybe the romance writers do that.

The day outside is bright and heaped with snow.  It's supposed to blow and I wouldn't want to drive into a ground blizzard, but I don't need to go anywhere.  My theory about preventing the high drifts across the driveway by sawing off the lowest limbs on the evergreens alongside has worked.  But the town plow has bermed me in again.  

I'd meant to reinsert the glass pane in the storm door since the cats tore a hole the summer screen that I also meant to repair, but today it turns out to be just the right size to reach the little wood stove ash shovel out so I can knock away enough snow to push out with the proper snow shovel.  I'd better go do that.  

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